This Week in the Mercury


Thursday, September 23, 2010

How Do You Find a Hit and Run Driver?

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 12:14 PM

We know a couple things about the guy who hit two cyclists back-to-back Tuesday morning near the Rose Quarter: He was driving a silver WRX Subaru, he had a temporary plate in his window but no rear plate, and his car had a Monster energy drink sticker on it. We don't know his license plate number, we don't know his name.

Keep an eye out for a car like this—but with more Monster.
  • Keep an eye out for a car like this—but with more Monster.

So how likely is it that the police can track down the guy with just a description of his car? Well, it's not looking good. Portland police spokesman Pete Simpson explains that the police can search the DMV database for cars, but not knowing the year of the car's make means the best search they could do would bring up every single Subaru in the state. The DMV doesn't track colors of cars, either.

Trying to find a specific Subaru in the state of Oregon? Good luck. It's like a needle in a haystack. A better resource could be searching a police database of cars that have been written citations in the past couple years, but so far there have been no major leads in this case.

So instead of just being able to dig up info about the Subaru WRX based on its description, the police rely mainly on tips. The problem with that is it takes a day for traffic tips to be processed through the police system, so if you happen to spot the offending car speeding down I-5, by the time the police hear about it, the suspect will be long gone. Police pin their hopes on someone spotting the car and recording its license number or figuring out where it's usually parked. "The license plate is going to be the key, or anything identifying where the vehicle lives," says Simpson.

In other news, the North American Subaru Owners Club is hot on the case! I wound up reading through their online forum discussing the news last night, and it was a refreshing conversation about a car-bike crash that breaks down the whole bikes vs. cars trope.

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